Release Date: Jul 23, 2013
Record label: Fat Possum
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Lo-Fi, Indie Pop, Neo-Psychedelia
Student life didn't quite work out for Jackson Scott when he left his native Pittsburgh, PA to attend college in Asheville, North Carolina. Though Scott has all but given up on his studies, the scenic atmosphere of the college town has apparently provided him with all the creative inspiration he needed to fully realize his musical ambitions. On Melbourne, Scott offers bedroom rock and roll music that, upon an initial listen immediately brings to mind the likes of Bradford Cox's Atlas Sound project.
Jackson Scott is a 20-year-old UNC dropout still residing in that school's idyllic town of Asheville, North Carolina. He's really into early Weezer and cites Syd Barrett as his biggest music icon. He records all his music on a four-track tape recorder and then plays it back into GarageBand. His debut album (named after his street, not the city in Oz) is a charming collection of lo-fi bedroom pop ditties that has the thematic naïveté of someone who's just left his teen years and hometown behind.
Syd Barrett is the perfect hero figure for music fans of a certain age: he’s brilliant, mysterious, romantically tragic, and eternally young and beautiful. (Also: drugs.) But Jackson Scott’s interest in the troubled Pink Floyd founder goes beyond surfaces. On his debut, Melbourne, the North Carolina-based singer-songwriter attempts to locate his inner Barrett, aspiring to the dark whimsy and fractured melodies of Pink Floyd’s Piper at the Gates of Dawn and the solo albums The Madcap Laughs and Barrett.
The debut album from this Asheville, NC resident is full of humid, hypnotic, acoustic guitar-driven Southern-style psychedelia. It owes nearly everything to the early Elephant 6 bands and Bradford Cox's Atlas Sound, but manages to push the genre a step forward. Scott's cartoonish voice has a phantasmagoric quality that gives songs like "Sandy" and "Any Way" a Beetlejuice-esque ghostly girl group vibe.
On his debut album, Melbourne, young North Carolinian inner space traveler Jackson Scott sounds like he spent a lot of time holed up in his bedroom absorbing Syd Barrett, filtered it through a whole bunch of '90s music (shoegaze, Elephant 6, GBV), and put it down on a wobbly tape machine. The result is something that's familiar to anyone who lived through the '90s, as there are strong echoes of Olivia Tremor Control, the Moles, Sebadoh, and the Apples in Stereo, but it's not just a nostalgia trip. Scott's songwriting is strong enough that Melbourne stands on its own as a legitimate artistic statement.
Instead of creating mystery via gimmicky disguises (looking at you, Wu Lyf) or a cryptic internet presence (oh hi, The Weeknd), North Carolinan Jackson Scott is doing so by hiding his true voice. Using different pitch-shifting techniques across this debut album, the 20-year-old impersonates a child (on ‘Sandy’, about the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012), becomes a warped and weary Elliott Smith on ‘Doctor Mad’ or adopts a lo-fi burble for ‘That Awful Sound’. Try as he might, though, he can’t cover up his odd but undeniable talents.
The Syd Barrett-obsessed North Carolina-based singer/songwriter Jackson Scott launched himself onto the indie music blogosphere earlier this year with the infinitely catchy That Awful Sound, a lo-fi, ’90s-inspired pop ditty. “Reality is killing me,” sang Scott on the track; perhaps that reality was the fact that he thought himself born in the wrong era. Now, Scott has released Melbourne, his debut full-length album.
The 20-year-old anti-singer-songwriter Jackson Scott has already been so bold as to declare his sound “apocalypse pop.” It seems we’re to take this notion ironically, because Scott doesn’t make the daunting, gigantic-sounding music that tag implies. Instead, his songs (the songs – not the instrumentals) are intimate and snugly woven, most of them bite-sized and recorded modestly on a four-track. But at its best, Scott’s debut Melbourne characterizes the North Carolina native as a compositional talent to watch in spite of an altogether failure to be musically assertive.
Basically, this was a stitch up. You take a pretty, young, weird-looking white boy with a guitar, a 4-track, and a yen for sounding dazed, and the blogosphere will just eat him alive these days. Six months ago, Jackson Scott was just some dude from Asheville with songs on a SoundCloud account. Within two months, he was on Fat Possum, Pitchfork hyped, and he was repping a label bio that read like someone had a gun to their head, a bad hangover, an overdue deadline, and a sick cat to look after.
Jackson Scott, a 20-something home recorder from Ashville, NC, slips radiant bits of pop melody into a slushy mix of static, cymbal clash and jangle. Pretty lines drift in and out of focus, subsumed in an inchoate rainbow hash of unstrung bedroom pop. You live, during this short but intriguing album, for the moments when a song rises up out of the mess and fuzz, the melody taking shape like a cloud takes shape if you look at it long enough.
Before a strange furore surrounded his wiry frame, Jackson Scott was just a kid in his basement uploading songs for the hell of it. ‘Melbourne’ was being given away for free until labels got entangled in the process. It’s the bedroom rock album to conquer all others, largely because it comes from such a genuine, ‘don’t-give-a-shit’ standing.
Jackson Scott’s ascent was familiar: A raw, enigmatic personality unassumingly shares a few homespun tracks on the internet. The music resonated in the ears of the right tastemakers and seemingly overnight, the previously unknown artist was crowned indie’s latest brilliant prodigy. Following this exposure, music enthusiasts turned to Google, desperate to learn more.